Alberto Cavalcanti

Production designer, Editor, Production head
Designed sets for French experimental filmmakers in the 1920s and directed his first film in 1926, the experimental city symphony "Rien que les heures". Cavalcanti moved to England in 1934, making documentaries and ... Read more »
Born: 02/05/1897 in Rio de Janeiro, BR

Filmography

other (10)

O Canto do Mar 2014 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

O Canto do Mar 2014 (Movie)

(Producer)

O Canto do Mar 2014 (Movie)

(Director)

Love Letters and Live Wires 2008 (Movie)

Sound Direction(Night Mail) (Sound)

Love Letters and Live Wires 2008 (Movie)

(N or NW) (Production Supervisor)

A Man And The Cinema 1977 (Movie)

(Director)

Herr Puntila and His Servant Matti 1954 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Herr Puntila and His Servant Matti 1954 (Movie)

(Director)

Champagne Charlie (Movie)

(Director)

They Made Me a Fugitive (Movie)

(Director)

Biography

Designed sets for French experimental filmmakers in the 1920s and directed his first film in 1926, the experimental city symphony "Rien que les heures". Cavalcanti moved to England in 1934, making documentaries and later documentary-influenced features at Ealing Studios before returning to Brazil in 1949. His best British features show considerable stylistic flair; working within the traditions of British realism, he nonetheless brought surrealistic touches to the genuinely odd wartime drama "Went the Day Well?" (1942) and his striking contributions to the classic anthology horror film, "Dead of Night" (1945). The latter film showcased Cavalcanti's occasional penchant for the expressionistic, which was highlighted in his masterful foray into film noir, "They Made Me a Fugitive" (1947).

Upon his return to Brazil, Cavalcanti helped set up, and headed, Vera Cruz Studios. His attempt to forge a new Brazilian Cinema, free of American dominance, was sabotaged when he was denounced as a communist. The model for the studio as well was also perhaps too influenced by Hollywood paradigms to succeed in another culture and without sufficient bankrolling. Despite losing his job Cavalcanti managed to make several more films, most impressively the bitter and lyrical "Song of the Sea" (1954). Upon returning to Europe he directed the highly regarded "Herr Puntilla und sein Knecht Matti" (1955), co-written with Bertolt Brecht.

Though Cavalcanti's is a genuine talent and a significant contribution to world cinema, the diversity of his interests has lessened the impact of his career as a whole. The fact that he worked in so many countries and in so many languages by itself means than his oeuvre has been little studied; though many of his individuals films deservedly remain highly respected, Cavalcanti himself has thus far eluded the writings of standardized, often limited, film histories.

EDUCATION

studied law and architecture in Geneva, Switzerland

Milestones

1968

Began teaching at UCLA

1955

Returned to Europe

1950

Returned to Brazil

1940

Moved to Ealing Studios

1937

Succeeded Grierson as head of GPO (name changed to Crown Film Unit at outbreak of WWII)

1934

Moved to England and began working for John Grierson at GPO Film Unit

1927

Feature directing, co-writing and editing debut, "En rade"

1926

First medium-length film as director (also writer; producer; editor), "Rien que les heures"

Produced short films for Len Lye, Norman McClaren, Pat Jackson, Humphrey Jennings and others while at GPO/Crown

SIMILAR ARTICLES